Trevor LaPaglia on falling in love with his two boyfriends: “I came for a workout, and basically never left”
Big heart. Beautiful spirit. Handsome AF. WINGS visited Los Angeles this summer, where we met up with actor and activist Trevor LaPaglia (he/him) – starring in the dark comedy series The Disappointments on YouTube – and his boyfriends Mikey and Patrick (both he/him).
We had an openhearted chat about Trevor’s coming out, his advocacy work on social media, and why you should watch his award-winning web series. Plus, we sat down with the boys to get their pro advice on how to be in a successful and loving polyamorous relationship.
Trevor, tell us about your background. What is it that brought you to Los Angeles?
“I’m from a really small town in Upstate New York, close to Buffalo. I grew up doing (musical) theatre, and I minored in music. In 2009, I moved to LA to pursue a career as an actor, and through that journey I’ve come out. I didn’t want to be gay, and I never planned on coming out. It wasn’t until I was living here for four years that I finally did. I knew that if I didn’t accept and embrace my sexuality, it would become the one thing holding me back from success. I’ve come to learn that happiness coincides with success.”
Why didn’t you want to be gay?
“Upstate New York is very religious and conservative. There wasn’t much representation for me, and I didn’t know many people like me. America is split in its views. It’s scary, even more when you’re growing up. In 1998, Matthew Shepard got beaten to death for being gay in a town similar to the own I was raised in. When you see that as a kid you don’t want to be gay. I fear the same thing is happening in America today, in places like Florida and Texas, where the government is condemning same sex relationships. When I moved to Los Angeles, I met a lot of free thinkers. Most of my friends are artists. People here don’t give a fuck about who or what you like, and it made me realize I shouldn’t care so much about what people think of me. I worked with a friend at a restaurant called The Polo Lounge. He opened up to me about his boyfriend. When he told me, I was shocked. I thought I knew him really well, and that he was straight. Being gay didn’t define him. He gave me a glimpse of the life I could have. It made me realize I could be out, happy, and continue the path that I was on.”
Why did you care so much about what people thought of you?
“I think it’s because of my religious upbringing in this small town. My mother cared too much about what people thought of us, which got in the way of us being able to be our authentic selves. Where I grew up, everyone knows each other. As a kid, I was always asked if I liked any girls, never boys. There was a sense of bringing shame to the family for being gay.”
Are you still in contact with your family?
“My parents and the rest of my family fully embraced me when I came out, but I have to admit that we aren’t as close as we used to be. They say they love and support me, but their actions fall short of that, with continued criticism and discontent whenever we talk to each other on the phone, which doesn’t happen that often. Fortunately I have been blessed with amazing friends who have become family and celebrate every part of who I am.”
You’ve come a long way since your coming out. You even play a gay character on the web series The Disappointments. What is the series about?
“The series is about three middle-aged friends, all of them struggling. They’re not where they want to be, and they’re trying to change their trajectory in life. At the start of the series, you find out that there’s a fourth friend who has committed suicide. It’s a dark comedy that brushes against this heavy topic. It’s done in a very tasteful way. The main characters cope with the situation in a positive way; it creates this bond, brings them together as friends, and they push each other forward. The Disappointments is written, produced, and directed by Rich Burns, who plays Ray, a struggling writer in Hollywood.”
And where do you fit into all of this? I mean, at 32, you’re far from being middle-aged…
“I play Dwight, Ray’s younger boyfriend, who’s in his early thirties, like me. I’m doing really well for myself, and I support him financially. That’s not a common thing in real life, but there’s a lot of humor in that premise. Dwight is goofy, very physical, cuddly, and socially awkward. He has Asperger’s. I did my research on Asperger’s Syndrome so I could bring that to the character. It creates truth in why he marches to his own beat.”
Dwight also comes across as really grounded.
“I think that’s what Ray needs. He’s kinda lost.”
Your character is based on an ex-boyfriend of Rich Burns. Did you meet him? And what did he think of your portrayal?
“I did. He’s a stud, and a really nice guy. We’re both very different people though, and the character I created has its own life. I feel I do justice to bringing the scenes to life that are based on their shared past, but essentially, my character is something else completely.”
Why should people watch The Disappointments?
“It’s a different LGBTQ+ story than you’re used to. It’s real people, dealing with real issues. At the beginning of the year, we crowdfunded the second season, which will be out around the summer of 2023. We managed to raise $87,000 which is phenomenal. Recently we won the Humanitas Prize for best Web Series, with $30,000 attached to it. So, the new season will have an even higher production value, and the episodes will be longer. Each character experiences a win and a loss. It’s going to be beautiful! Over one million people watched the first season on YouTube. Two episodes are age-restricted because of adult content, so you should login to your account if you want to check out the complete series.”
The WINGS team has met a lot of amazing queer people in Los Angeles. It really feels like you’re a tight-knit community that looks out for each other. Judging from your Instagram, you put a lot of effort in helping others as well, and educating people on certain issues. Where does your activism come from?
“Two-thirds of my life I was in a really dark place. I didn’t have any role models when I was growing up. There are a lot of kids who find themselves in similar situations. I feel it’s my duty to be myself, express myself, and show that you don’t need to live in fear. If I can do that, you can do that. There’s a whole community waiting for you with open arms. I didn’t know that community existed. I thought I was going to be alone; that life was going to suck. In Los Angeles, there are five thousand homeless youth living on the street. The majority of that number are LGBTQ+ teens that have been kicked out of their homes, for the same fears that kept me in the closet. I would like to spread more awareness about this issue. These kids need to know they’re not alone.”
One of the things you’ve been pretty vocal about recently is the Monkey Pox Outbreak.
“I was case number three in Los Angeles, and one of my boyfriends was case number four. We were exposed to it in Chicago during International Mr. Leather 2022. It felt like I was patient zero, and that I had the responsibility to talk about it. I had the pox in my hole, and it felt like I was shitting glass shards for two weeks. It was excruciating. I shared my story on social media, informed people about the symptoms, and told them where they could get help. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the federal government were very slow to act on it. They weren’t prepared for it, and it was really difficult to get a vaccination.”
Let’s switch to a more pleasant topic. WINGS loves unconventional relationships. You have two amazing boyfriends. I would love to talk to the three of you about your polyamorous relationship and find out how you make things work.
“Let me call the boys to join us. What would you like to know?”
Well, let’s start at the very beginning. How did you become an item?
Patrick: “Mikey and I have been together for twelve years, and this is our third polyamorous relationship. We weren’t looking for a new person to join when Trevor came along two years ago, but when I started to develop feelings for him, Mikey was very accepting of that.”
Mikey: “It helped that we were already friends with Trevor. We are very receptive to unconventional relationships, and to sharing our love. When COVID-19 happened, and everything shut down, Trevor asked us if he could work out in our home gym. We didn’t mind at all. Through that we got to know him in a different context. When Patrick and Trevor developed feelings for each other, they were very forthcoming about it, and I told them to go for it. And here we are now! It will be two years in September that we’re all officially boyfriends.”
Did you lure him into your house, and say ‘Listen up, do you want to be our boyfriend?’, or how did that go?
Mikey: “(laughs) It was exactly like that!”
Trevor: “I came for a workout, and basically never left.”
Mikey: “He made us French toast after every workout, so it was hard to kick him out. When Patrick and Trevor started dating, I gave them space to explore their feelings, by taking a step back. At the same time my friendship with Trevor developed, but there were no romantic feelings yet. I was more reluctant, and still coping with our previous poly relationships. I wanted to get to know Trevor as my husband’s boyfriend first.”
Trevor: “It was comforting to hear from Mikey that he didn’t want to dismiss that we were becoming good friends. Our friendship grew into something beautiful.”
Mikey: “Which turned into romantic feelings eventually.”
Trevor: “Our love grew organically, without it being forced.”
When did you notice you had feelings for him, Mikey?
Mikey: “I know exactly when that was. We went to Ginger Rogers Beach. I found out how Trevor handled some difficult situations in the past; a lot of people wouldn’t have handled it in the way that he did. I saw a different side of him that day. It made me truly appreciate him, and I thought: ‘This is a really, really beautiful man.’ I may have been the last to come around, but for me it was a nice and natural way to fall in love with someone.”
What does it take to have a successful polyamorous relationship?
Patrick: “It’s communication and honesty. When you develop feelings for another person it’s tempting not to tell your partner, and to just see what happens. You need to feel secure in your already existing relationship, and there needs to be trust. When you’re a throuple you need to over-communicate everything.”
Mikey: “A lot of it is just us figuring it out. There’s no rulebook. We’re three very different people. Being patient when you don’t have an answer right away also helps.”
Trevor: “This is the first time that I’m in a poly relationship. I love these boys because of who they are individually, and because of what they bring to the table together. When I started having feelings for them, I decided to go at it one day at a time, and say ‘yes’ to this new experience. It was a little scary because at the end of the day, if things didn’t work out, they’d still have one another, and I’d be alone. I had to remind myself of what I could gain, not what I could lose. First and foremost, I didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship of three years. I made sure to prioritize the health of their relationship and take it slow. Our future together would only work if they were stable as a couple. I think they really appreciated the extra respect and consideration, which only helped strengthen our trust and bond.”
Last question for each of you: what’s your favorite memory together?
Mikey: “New Year’s Eve in Puerto Vallarta. It was already morning, and we found ourselves outside in this rural area. There was this farm, there were chickens running around, and the sun was coming up. It was a beautiful moment to be together, and to celebrate the new year and this new relationship with the three of us.”
Patrick: “Mine is also in Puerto Vallarta, but on a different trip. We found a place there that we wanted to buy with the three of us. Buying that condo, and signing the papers, felt like it made us more official. Which was sweet, and it made me a happy man.”
Mikey: “(laughs) Mine is a beautiful sunrise, Patrick’s is a business transaction. This says something about us as individuals. We compliment each other. We all have our different skills and weaknesses, which is a good thing.”
Trevor: “One of my favorite memories is from the day we met. They were so cool, they had so much respect for one another, and I saw the way they loved each other. I was flattered that they welcomed me as a friend. It was the relationship that I wanted to have.”
And then you got it!
Trevor: “(in a loving tone) They were so secure, they had so much fun. I thought, that’s what it should be about! And then the universe gave it to me.”
Check out The Disappointments on YouTube (don’t forget to log in, so you can watch all the episodes), and make sure to follow Trevor@ohhhtrev,Mikey@malen101, and Patrick@patrickjonsmith on Instagram. If you’re in West Hollywood, and in in need of a drink, we suggest you hop over to Trunks Bar (@trunksbar). Trevor is known to bartend there every now and then!